A Bicycle Trip to Sacheon

We are fortunate not to be locked down because of the corona virus in Korea, but it’s easy to feel a bit of cabin fever because there are many places it’s wise to avoid. Places like downtown or the market where I often went to make photographs. So to get a bit of exercise and get out somewhere, I cycled out to the seaside and then up the coast to the village of Sacheon. I had no specific photographic goals. I just wanted to go for a ride and make photos of whatever I saw on on the way.

The shortest route from my apartment to Sacheon is 14 kilometres, but there are a number of hills to get over and busy roads to cross. I chose to take the riverside exercise path out to Anmok Beach and then head north up the coast. That makes the trip 18 kilometres long, but there are no hills and it’s a much easier and relaxing ride. This photo was made just after I turned left from Anmok to go up the coast. I don’t know why there is a Dutch windmill on top of this shed, but at least it’s colourful.
Speaking of colour, I wanted my photos to have something of a cheap and cheerful holiday film look, so I chose the classic chrome simulation on the X-T3 and then added lots of contrast, sharpening, and some grain in Lightroom.

This is across the street from the windmill shed. Shamanistic rites are held in this building for a bountiful catch from the ocean. I saw it one year and it’s quite a noisy affair. Shamans singing and howling and gongs being struck. Some business has incongruously stored their clear plastic tourist canoes next to the place.

This person was either getting into or out of a wetsuit. I love the colour of the water.

This is where a stream runs into the sea. Or where it should run out. There is a military watchtower just off to the left and maybe they’ve done something to the strand for their purposes.

Someone put these blocks of stone here to keep some soil from washing away, but I couldn’t see anything that needed saving except for this little copse of pine trees. (Do four trees a copse make?)

I’m almost in Sacheon at this point, and I notice a large new building in the middle of some farm land. There is a sign saying ‘Chocolat’ on the top. Maybe it’s a chocolate café? There is a chocolate café in Gangneung, though not as impressive as this one. It may seem odd to have such a business in the middle of nowhere, but Sacheon is quickly being built up as a tourist area. I heard that Universal Studios is going to set up some sort of theme park here in the future. I had better make my photos of the area while I can . . . .

I once photographed this emergency box and rocks using Kodak Ektar film and it looked very similar to this. This is the beach at Sacheon.

And here is the entrance to Sacheon Harbour. I usually don’t go out with the camera when the sun is high and blazing, but I have to say I like the contrast and the colours. I shouldn’t let the bright sun keep me inside from now on. Or maybe I should. I got a sunburn on my face . . . .

Another truck. It looks like it’s for transporting nets and other fishing equipment. You can see that the salt water is unkind to the steel body of the vehicle.

I usually see a lot of cats on the docks, but only saw this one on this trip. Maybe they were all taking a nap somewhere out of the sun. I met this guy (or his twin) later at a nearby restaurant.

And here’s the place where I ate my dinner. It’s called the Donghae restaurant. Donghae means ‘east sea’ in Korean and is also what the Koreans call the Sea of Japan. This restaurant serves some fish soups, grilled fish, gimchi soup, grilled ribs, and so on. This server was giving me a hard look while I photographed her.

My meal. Yumm-o. I always order spicy pork stir-fry when I come here. I didn’t like most of the side dishes I was served, and only ate the stir-fry, the rice, the gimchi, and the potato in chilli sauce. I wish there was a system for being able to only buying the side dishes you want, like you can do in some places in Taiwan.

The breakwater was barred off because there was some wind, so I stuck the lens through the gate and made this photo.

A smallish fishing boat tied up at the wharf.

These are the rocks that were in the photo with the yellow emergency box. The half-buried pipes run from the sea to the tanks that hold live fish down on the docks.

After my dinner and a look around, I got back on my bicycle and headed back down the coast. This is one of many small streams that run into the sea after coming down off the mountains and across farm land.

The same scene, but horizontal. I think I like this version better.

What this container is doing here I don’t know, but it struck me as photo-worthy for some reason. Maybe because it looks so out of place with the sand and pines and blue sky.

I imagine this utility pole once had a lot more wires on it than it does now. I like the wasteland look of this whole photo.

I was possibly trespassing when I made this photo, but I was standing on an empty plot of land that looked like it hadn’t been used for years. Maybe it’s okay?

The same scene, but I got up on a stone block wall to get a higher point of view. I like all the zigzag lines.

This is probably the weakest photo of the day, but I couldn’t resist making a picture of this weirdness. And it gets weirder. El Camino is the name of a pension for pets. A pension for pets? Why? I don’t know. What does a rusted El Camine have to do with pets or pensions? No idea. But there it is on top of a tiny concrete building.

The roof is at street level because the road is built up and houses are down on the beach.

It can’t be easy to get anything to grow in this sandy soil right on the windy shore. People in the past must of had a hard existence fishing out on the sea and then trying to do a bit of subsistence farming on the side.

This guy is using his tractor to lay down long strips of plastic before planting seed. Every spring the whole country is completely covered in this plastic and every autumn huge piles of it are collected to go in the trash. And a certain percentage gets up in the trees and hangs around all winter like horrible Christmas decorations.

I like this scene, but I think I should try photographing it again if I go back up the coast. I think the brown plastic tub on the right saves this photo.

These are minbak, which are a kind of bed and breakfast without the breakfast. And they are usually very shabby with just a floor to sleep on. So, a bed and breakfast without bed or breakfast. Hmmm. They have the advantage of being very cheap and very close to the beach. On the beach, in fact. I would like to stay in one for a few days some winter. It might be nice to sit in a small room with a little cooking stove and watch the rough seas. With enough tea and books it could be quite cosy. For a few days . . . .

Here’s a place that didn’t make it. Both of the signs say ‘raw fish restaurant’, but the place on the right looks like it might still be in business.

Back to civilisation, such as it is. This huge seafood market/restaurant is on the first floor of a huge new hotel. The colours on the boat are not, as far as I know, traditional Korean colours or design. But look good on Instagram, I suppose.

The building in front is a health spa with hot springs. The building in the back is a new monstrosity hotel called St. John’s.

A new apartment complex in the northern part of the city. The box in the foreground looks like it came off the back of a truck. The small white sign on the box says, “For Rent”.

A view along the riverside on my way inland from Anmok.

Two chairs under a bridge. As if you couldn’t guess.

Clothes from charity collection boxes (I assume they are for charity) end up in overfilled trucks like this one. I would avoid this vehicle on the road, I can tell you.

That’s all the photos from my trip. Well, not all. I made 188 photos but only thought 30 or so were worth sharing. The others were cock-ups, variants on the photos here, or just too boring to share. I hope you enjoyed my little bicycle trip up the coast. Even if the photos are not that good, it might have been interesting to see scenes and oddities from another country. Unless you’re from Korea, in which case you’re probably thinking, “Why the hell did he make photos of those things?”

I would like to make more trips like this one once my arse recovers from the hours on an uncomfortable bicycle seat . . . .

Horizons

Some time ago I decided in the name of minimalism to not print any more photos and to only look at them on digital devices. But I quickly discarded that decision after decluttering my binders and gathering together my favourite photograph prints. There is really no comparison between a photograph seen on a screen and one held in the hand. A well-exposed photograph looks very good on a website or a tablet, but a photograph printed on good paper by an expert lab loses some of the harshness of the backlit pixel and bring out a photo’s beauty. Is it because pixels on a display are discrete units but dots from a printer run into each other a bit, resulting in a more organic look? I don’t know, and I’m sure others have written about this more knowledgeably than me.

In the interest of maybe showing better photographs here, I recently made it a rule not to post new photographs until I had prints in hand to see which of my pictures really make me happy after going through the complete editing process from camera-to-computer transfer to selecting in an image viewer to getting the prints back from the lab and looking them over again.

But enough about that. Here are four photographs I made at Anmok Beach last month. I used a 16:9 aspect ratio because I thought it matched the wide scenes of the beach. The prints, of course, look nicer than what you see here, but enjoy.

Orange Umbrella, Anmok Beach.
Green Bench, Anmok Beach
Yellow Digger, Anmok Beach
Red Trailer, Anmok Beach

Wolhwa Park

A train track used to run through Gangneung, but it was removed when the new high speed train rail that takes a different route was put in. The city created a new market and a park in the downtown area where the rail line used to run. The rail bridge is now a pedestrian bridge to the other side of Namdae River. I went there earlier this month to make some photos, especially of the view from the bridge.

This statue is called “Sisters” and stands at the base of the stairs and ramp that goes up to the bridge. I always thought this was a statue of a mother and a boy, but I happened to read the plaque on the day I made this photo.

The view from the side of the bridge closest to downtown. An island of rocks in the river and an island of apartments among smaller buildings.

The same rocks from a spot a little further along the bridge.

The long view from the bridge. The closest bridge is also a pedestrian bridge called “underwater bridge” because in times of bad flooding it gets submerged.

“Sisters” is at the bottom of the stairs and this statue called “Free Time” is at the top. The woman is holding an empty coffee cup and in the background there are coffee shops. Gangneung tourism seems to revolve around beaches and coffee. Both things I don’t like very much. Nice statue, though. Lots of people come to take their photos with the statue.

And there you are. I want to visit this bridge and park a few more times to see if there are any other interesting views. The park is very crowded at weekends and during the vacation season, so I might give it a pass until the weather cools off and the tourists stop coming.

For those of you interested in such things, these photos were made with a Fujifilm X-T3 and the 18-55mm kit lens. They were made by the camera, but not Straight Out Of the Camera. The camera recorded raw files which I then transferred to my computer. Once I deleted the mistakes, et cetera, I connected the camera to the computer and opened Fujifilm X Raw Studio. That program uses the camera to process the raw files into jpg files. I used the Acros film simulation for the black and white photos with +1 warming. The colour photo comes from the classic chrome simulation. So, I chose my ‘film’ after I made the photos. Very convenient. I did a bit of burning in Lightroom on the distant bridge photo but the others are untouched.

Market Photographs

There are often interesting things to photograph in the traditional market downtown. Unfortunately, many of the market stalls don’t always follow city regulations and the owners can be very sensitive about people photographing their place of business. I’ve been told a number of times not to make photographs. If I wanted to do a collection of market photographs I would probably have to show up often over a number of weeks and just walk around until the stall owners became used to me. Then maybe they wouldn’t mind the camera so much.
Anyway, I do make the odd photograph now and then if I’m not being stared at. Here are a few I came home with a couple of weeks ago.

If there’s a fire, maybe they can use the water from the tubs to put it out.
Plastic colanders in front of a closed shop. Not much use for putting out fires.
Box for measuring Chinese dates.

Well, a pretty poor haul. Partly because I need more practice photographing markets and partly because I rush when I’m nervous about people watching me.  But it’s now full on tourist season so maybe the vendors are a bit more tolerant of cameras these days. I’ll have to give it another go and try to take my time.

The Student Experience

I always seem to notice this statue more during exam periods. Perhaps because the facial expressions match those of the students walking past it.
I wonder if these three figures are so glum because student life is difficult, or because the pleasant little wooded path behind them (not in the photo) is congested with smokers like every other rest area at the university, or because the Arts College was chopped several years ago along with the College of Humanities. Poor little stone orphans . . . . .
For those of you who are interested, this photo was made using my Fujifilm X-T3 and I set the film simulation to Classic Chrome. I brightened it slightly using a tone curve and then levelled it, because my head seems to be set not quite straight on my head. 150th sec at f13, ISO 320. The lens was the very short and portable Fujinon F2.8 27mm pancake lens. Great for walkabouts.